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Photo TR: Andy's 2014 New Hotness / East Coast TPR Tour


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The TPR Mini New Hotness / Mini East Coast tour ... also known as the Coney-to-Coney tour, the #66MinutesOfSleep tour, the Fried-Chicken-And-Hot-Dogs tour, and the Awful-Zamperla-Kiddie-Coaster Tour.

Welcome to my trip report for the 2014 TPR New Hotness and East Coast trips. This is going to be a work in progress for quite a while, but I think it's worth the effort to share some pictures and stories from an outstanding two weeks with TPR.

 

Day 0 -- Coney Island Cincinnati and Stricker's Grove (Page 1)

Day 1 -- Kings Island (Page 3)

Day 2 pt 1 -- Kentucky Kingdom (Page 4)

Day 2 pt 2 -- Beech Bend (Page 6)

Day 3 -- Holiday World (Page 7)

Day 4 -- Indiana Beach (Page 8)

Day 5 -- Six Flags Great America (Page 9)

Day 6/7 -- Intermission (Page 11) / Hersheypark (Page 11)

Day 8 -- Knoebels (Page 14)

Day 9 -- Dorney Park (Page 16)

Day 10 -- Six Flags Great Adventure (Page 18)

Day 11 -- New York City (Page 20)

Day 12 pt 1 -- Coney Island / Luna Park (Page 21)

Day 12 pt 2/3 -- Scott's Pizza Tour / Top of the Rock (Page 21)

Day 13 -- Epilogue (Page 21)

 

The Prologue

 

I took my first trip with TPR in 2013, and had an absolutely fantastic time. When the 2014 tours were announced, the close-to-home New Hotness tour was the best fit in my schedule. An east coast add-on was discussed, and eventually that evolved into a separate itinerary, which I also joined. I think there were about 15 people that did both legs of the trip. I was able to extend my vacation by another few days with my brother (who lives on Long Island), before flying back to Ohio after 17 days away from home.

 

My biggest motivation for this trip was the huge number of highly-rated coasters I'd never been on before. That list includes rides like Voyage, Skyrush, El Toro, Phoenix, Kingda Ka, Kentucky Rumbler, and two great new coasters in Banshee and Goliath. I hit coaster credit #200 on the trip, and made a total of 195 roller coaster rides (with 224 inversions). That's enough to make a lot of people dizzy, but not a TPR crew. There isn't much of anything that could keep this group from the marathon ERT sessions that defined the trip -- not rain, not fatigue, or even smoldering coaster track. True stories on all accounts, but you'll have to wait to hear the details!

 

Outside of riding coasters, fellow tour members likely never saw me without a camera around my neck. Fast-paced park visits can sometimes be a trade-off between rides and photography, but after four weeks with TPR, I think I've found the balance that fits me best. If I made one adjustment to my photography after last year's efforts, it was an attempt to focus a little more in getting TPR people in the shots, especially at the smaller parks where that was easier to do. So, a pre-emptive thanks to all the great people I shared the experience with in 2014. You're all going to show up in the trip report somewhere.

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Day 0 (Part 1) -- Coney Island Cincinnati

Thursday, July 24, 2014

 

Scorecard:

 

Python

-- Lunch --

Wipe Out

Famous Fairways

The Scream Machine

Ferris Wheel

 

The Report:

 

Just days after finishing the trip report for my 2013 excursion, I left home for another two weeks with TPR. The big difference for 2014? This trip started very close to home in southwest Ohio, and I was one of just a few TPR members who didn't need an airplane to get to the official meeting place.

 

To be more precise, the actual start of the 2014 trip was in northern Kentucky, the location of the airport serving the Cincinnati metro area. I stowed my car off-site, cringed at the two weeks' worth of parking fees I'd incur, and made my way to the airport arrivals area at around 11 AM. It was great to quickly meet up with several people I was on the 2013 tour with!

 

Although not everybody arrived early for our official add-on park, I'd say that about two-thirds of the group was present for our trip to Coney Island. Coney Island is a park with a lot of history for the Cincinnati area. It pre-dates Kings Island by almost a century, and acted as an ancestor for the park -- and its name. "The Coney Island of the West" was certainly a reference to the famous New York location, and combined with the name of the Kings Mills community in which the new park was built, Kings Island was born. Why build a new park 20 miles to the north? Coney Island is located on the banks of the Ohio River, in a location prone to significant flooding. For better or for worse, the Coney Island location could never have supported what Kings Island has become. Thankfully, both parks were able to survive, and Coney Island remains a popular spot for families in the Cincinnati area. Coney Island's defining characteristics are the Sunlite Pool (said to be one of the largest pools in the world) and Lake Como, a small pond with options for boating.

 

We arrived at Coney Island at 1230 PM, and immediately made our way toward the first credit of the trip, Python. I wouldn't call it a "mad dash" to the coaster -- I'm not sure anyone really knew how to get there from the entrance, but we eventually did find our way. Even though Python is small, it was my first coaster ride in months, and the first drop hit me with that jolt that all first rides tend to produce! After a cycle on Python, the TPR group split up to tackle some of the other attractions at the park. Some people were brave enough to try the Rock-O-Plane, while others enjoyed the trip's first round of drinks. I pity anyone who did both.

 

At 130 PM, we met up for lunch. We were served fried chicken and hot dogs. That last sentence is getting Ctrl-C'd and saved for future reference. If you were on the trip, you know why.

 

After lunch, I met up with Mark and Lisa, and we made our way through the rest of Coney Island. We were brave enough to try Wipe Out, competitive enough to face off in a game of Famous Fairways mini-golf (free with wristband), and sure enough of stomach to give the park's small drop tower a ride. The rest of our visit focused primarily on pictures, with some aerial views from the park's Ferris wheel, and a walk around the rest of the property.

 

Coney Island was a great start to the trip! Although I've lived in southwest Ohio for almost eight years, I'd never been there, and having a few hours with TPR for my first visit made it all the better. With the park's target audience in mind, I really don't see much to complain about at all. One thing I found interesting is that there's really no place to view the Ohio River from the main part of the park. There are good reasons for this, of course, and there's no way the park would ever build anything substantial close to the water. They're definitely trying to expand a little in the thrill department, adding Wipe Out in 2014 and a 360-degree pendulum in 2015. Perhaps the time may come when the park adds something tall enough to see over the trees, and grant a view of the entire river valley!

 

We departed Coney Island at 4 PM, just in time to head back to the airport to pick up the rest of the Mini New Hotness tour participants.

 

The Attractions:

 

Python: The former Pepsi Python is a small D.P.V. coaster, very similar to a Pinfari Zyklon. This one runs two-car trains, but the second row in the back car has been built over. It rides about as well as one could expect, but it serves its purpose as a simple family coaster for a simple family park. I'm pretty sure no one was injured by it! See TPR's POV of Python

.

 

Wipe Out: I don't usually do rides like this, but I had to give it a shot! Wipe Out is a Moser Flipping Action Arm, with a ride cycle that boils down to randomly tossing riders around like rag dolls, in a washing machine, in a tornado. The ride experience was worth trying once, but once you've been through one spin cycle, your bruises will thank you for not going again. See TPR's video of Wipe Out

.

 

Scream Machine: A 50-foot Moser tower, this packed more punch than I was expecting! It ran a six-shot cycle, with slow lifts to the top, and quick jolts back down. It provided brief but very intense shots of air.

 

Ferris Wheel: It's a small wheel, but it moves fast and runs a long cycle -- 15 minutes in our case.

 

The Pictures:

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OK, like most TPR trips, this one begins at a set location. This time, the selected location was ... the U.S. center of population in 1880 ... uh, strange choice there. Or maybe it's the place behind the sign?

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Oh, yeah, the airport.

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Maybe some TPR people arriving on that plane right now!

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Not that I'd have any way of knowing. Honestly.

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OK, you're all welcome to make fun of me for posting airport pictures, and doubly make fun of me because it's an airport I didn't even fly into!

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Lest I risk arrest, I did not cross the fence, choosing a TPR adventure instead of a Kentucky state prison system adventure.

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So, here we are, back on the good side of the Ohio River at Coney Island!

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...are the people from that Delta jet following me?

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TPR scurries into the park, not exactly sure where the ex-Pepsi Python is located.

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Oh, there it is. No bone injuries, please.

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In line for the first coaster of the trip! Not first in line, mind you -- good luck beating out Ryan and Laura for that.

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A new credit in the books, and a look at the other TPR members waiting to ride...

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...and this is where the ride ops curse their favorite deity.

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Let's take a closer look at Python! How was your ride, Mark?

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Looks like it was great!

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JC and Paul H approve as well.

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A wider view of Python, which I guess is some sort of Pinfari SDC Zyklon DPV Galaxi knock-off or something like that.

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Robb's ready to ride. Or so he thinks!

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There's the drop. It gets you the first time.

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Rounding third and heading for home.

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Coney Island: Since 1886.

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This is one of the main pedestrian gates into the park, though we came in from a parking lot on the opposite side.

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More riders take the plunge on Python.

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I've figured out what looks weird about rides like this -- it's the teeny-tiny track.

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They sure are compact rides, though.

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Take a look at the back car -- the second row of seats is gone. Never seen anything like that.

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Python is fun for all ages.

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Alright, I admit.

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If the kid's having a good time, then the coaster's doing its job.

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Now, what else is there to see at Coney Island?

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Here's a look at one of the main midways. The park is heavily lined with trees and has a family picnic / small carnival feel.

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If we had another 15 minutes, I would have picked up one of the orange swirl ice cream cones. Supposedly those are one of the park's signature items.

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Several TPR members spent time over in this area.

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Here's an interesting looking fountain, standing in front of the Moonlite Gardens building.

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Moonlite Gardens is an open-air dance hall constructed in the 20s by PTC (yes, that PTC). It's available for rent for private parties and receptions.

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Detail on the balcony.

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Here's a time capsule, which was opened in 2011. Or was it?

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Alongside Coney Island, here's another Cincinnati institution that was founded in the later 1800s.

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A plaque for Ralph Wachs, who (along with his son Gary) had a role in both Coney Island and Kings Island.

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Floral clocks are an automatic picture.

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A mural for Coney Island. I think I waited almost five minutes for that person to move. Guess I could have asked.

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Judging by the image of the Cincinnati skyline, it's a recent mural. Whoever made the Carew Tower bigger than the Great American building gets an A+ from me.

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Time to check out a few more rides at the park. Every park needs a carousel, and Coney Island delivers.

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Flying Bobs? Yup. I usually skip these.

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Kid planes and a round-up, as seen from near Python.

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It's a Tilt-A-Whirl with an interesting color scheme.

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The park's bumper cars are very green and yellow.

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They have an island in the middle, but looked pretty tame.

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Don't be fooled into thinking the TPR members at the bottom of this picture are sane. They're standing in line for a Rock-O-Plane. I rest my case.

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Here's one I actually rode -- the Moser drop tower, which was surprisingly fun. It looks like a giant frog hopper.

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Oh. Wipe Out. Yeah, this one.

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Sure, why not, let's give it a spin.

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Because this looks comfortable.

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Honestly, it wasn't that bad, but certainly once is enough!

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This is more my style! I'll never willingly pass up a game of mini-golf, though time constraints forced me to skip a few later on the trip. Not a bad shot, Lisa.

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Mark is concentrating heavily on sinking the putt.

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Does this mean we all win?

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Nope, it means I win. Ha ha ha. Full credit to Lisa for sinking the only hole-in-1, though! Close match, close match. Well done, friends.

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Hey, is that a Ferris wheel?

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Sure looks like it is!

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Hey, did a TPR member on the trip who operates Ferris wheels have some interesting things to say about this one? So what! Let's ride!

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Grab bar down, let's get this thing in the air.

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Now we're flying. Enjoying the view, Lisa?

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It's definitely a small wheel, but it moved pretty quick.

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This is what happens when you look up.

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I wasn't even contemplating it, but thanks for the warning.

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So, if you read my 2013 trip report, you probably figured out I've got a thing for elevated views. Aerial photography. Beautiful vistas. Get used to it, there's plenty where that came from in store for this report!

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Here's beautiful Lake Como, a very shallow man-made lake that dates to the late 1800s.

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A view across to Kellogg Ave and I-275.

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Canoes get the big part of the lake, and paddleboats get the small part.

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Hey, is that Russ in Boat 12? I think it is!

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Also residing in Lake Como: fish.

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A look over to some of the kids rides at Coney Island.

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Here's the best views I could get of the water park, which was easily as busy as the dry park, if not more so.

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The Sunlite Pool is one of the world's biggest pools, according to Coney Island. I think they're referring to pools that aren't wave pools at big resorts or water parks, but I can't really substantiate that claim.

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They do have a pretty big slide tower, as well as a few speed slides (not pictured). Our wristbands weren't good for water park admission, so we couldn't go in to get more pictures.

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Don't look down! Actually, look down, 'cause after 15 minutes on this Ferris wheel I'm ready to get off.

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This is either Spaceship Earth or EuroSat. Or Euro-Bungy. One of those.

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The main park gate, which we didn't go through.

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That decorative scaffolding is part of Riverbend Music Center, which is essentially co-located with Coney Island. Riverbend is the main large outdoor music venue for the Cincinnati area, with a capacity of around 20,000.

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Oh, they have an old west town?

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It's like I'm back at Silver Dollar City!

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Looking across Lake Como toward the main entrance.

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So, I mentioned the Ohio River in the trip report, which tends to flood every now and then. 1997 was one of the worst, and there are signs posted around the park indicating how high the water got. Let's put it this way -- when the Ohio River is where it's supposed to be, the ground at the park is about 30-35 feet higher than the water level. So, add that plus another few feet to reach the sign, and you can get an idea of how bad it was!

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Ed Schott, the president of Coney Island, drew a 79-cent paycheck for helping some guy plan out another theme park. Probably a waste of time. Don't remember who. Would have helped if they named the company after him or something.

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Had a great afternoon at Coney Island! Thanks for hosting us and kicking off the trip.

Edited by The Great Zo
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Day 0 (Part 2) -- Stricker's Grove

Thursday, July 24, 2014

 

Scorecard:

 

Teddy Bear

Tornado

Flying Scooters

 

The Report:

 

We returned to the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport at 430 PM, picking up the rest of the group, and made an abrupt left turn at I-275. Initially expecting our welcome dinner to be somewhere near our hotel, I caught on immediately to our change in plans, knowing there was only one reason to take a detour to the other side of the city.

 

North of the dense Cincinnati suburban area, farmland takes over quickly, and I happily prepared to hear the reaction of the bus when two white-painted coasters rose above the seas of corn on the horizon. Stricker's Grove is a very small, privately-run park in Ross, Ohio. It's nestled between the Great Miami River, a cornfield, and an active shooting range. The park is famed not specifically for its rides, but for their elusiveness -- Sticker's Grove is open to the public only four days a year.

 

This was not one of those days.

 

Alas, palms can be greased, and Hail Marys can be purchased, or something along those lines. We politely and profitably crashed another group's party for an hour, picking up two big bragging-rights coaster credits, and throwing riders' milestone counts out-of-whack.

 

We arrived just after 5 PM, but the park wasn't ready to open for another hour. Once the rides were operating, I rode Teddy Bear and Tornado once each, then got some pictures of TPR in action on both coasters. Stricker's Grove also has an assortment of classic flat rides, and I had to take the opportunity to try their Flying Scooters. I'd never been on a set of Flying Scooters before, and needed a warm-up run before visiting the legendary version of the ride at Knoebels eight days later. With more time, I would have liked to play their mini-golf course. I am deeply disappointed, however, that I missed the half-mile train -- in fact, I didn't even know it was operating. Perhaps I'll have to return to Stricker's Grove sooner or later -- Tornado's worth another few rides too.

 

The Attractions:

 

Teddy Bear: It's a junior woodie with no big surprises. It's very similar to Little Dipper at SFGAm and Meteor at Little Amerricka.

 

Tornado: Tornado was a pleasant surprise. It's not that much bigger than Teddy Bear, and the ride experience was somewhere between that of a full-size woodie and its adjacent smaller sibling. If it's indeed a pseudo-clone of Comet from Rocky Glen, its height is about 55 feet. Tornado's third leg includes a very nice pop of air for those in the back of the train! Here's the TPR POV of Tornado.

 

Flying Scooters: Slower than most, but perfectly acceptable to the kids and families at the park. They worked great as a set of training wheels for me.

 

The Pictures:

 

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Welcome to the home of the Hamilton County 4-H Community Fair!

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That's not what we're here for, though, is it?

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Oh, that's what we're here for. Teddy Bear in blue and white, and Tornado in red and white.

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Bored with a zoom lens while we wait for the park to open.

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Anyone want some grease?

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This wheel looks pretty similar to the one we just rode at Coney Island.

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Kiddie rides with those jewel-looking lights are a disappearing piece of nostalgia.

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Just about time to open, so here's a view of the north end of the midway.

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Let's start off on Teddy Bear, easily the most harmless coaster name in history. Just a short line up to the station platform.

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A huge congrats to Nathan for picking up coaster credit #100 on the most adorable coaster with the most adorable logo ever!

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This is the part where all the adults take over the kiddie woodie and act like it's I305.

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Up the lift...

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...and away we go.

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No idea how I got this one in focus.

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Coming up on the run back into the station.

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Elissa and KT approve!

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Ryan and Laura approve! Paul S too, he's back there somewhere.

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This may be the best front-of-train graphic in the history of coastering.

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Another train of picnic attendees crests Teddy Bear.

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The front row kids look pretty focused...

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...but my favorite is the kid in the Slipknot shirt.

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Next up, a coaster I was made for.

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Yes, a meteorologist on a coaster named Tornado. It's a match made in ... the favorite final resting place of the folks whose party we crashed!

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Tornado has some height to it, at least compared with the rest of the rides at Stricker's Grove.

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I like the paint scheme on both coasters -- simple but very effective. They remind me of American Eagle at SFGAm, at least if that structurally-dubious coaster had gone through a lick of upkeep since the day it opened.

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Hands up, Zach!

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Much better, red train.

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This coaster needs an awesome graphic for the front of the train also.

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So we're riding and having a good time and start hearing noises. What's that cracking and popping off in the background?

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Turns out Stricker's Grove is located adjacent to an active gun range. This is just awesome.

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2013's TPR US tour visited a park next to a cemetery. 2014's tour visits a park next to a gun range. Did we do that out of order?

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Silhouettes in disguise.

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Awesome rides on Tornado and Teddy Bear, and full credit for the rolling stock -- bench seats and buzz bars!

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I didn't do a full photo set on the rest of the park, and I'm still mad I missed the train, but here's a few other pictures.

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Joe's working the flyers.

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TJ also. Glad I got to try this set of flyers as a warm-up for the big day on the second leg of the trip.

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It doesn't look like much, but the majority of the park is in this picture. It's a small place, but tightly packed, and with plenty to do for a large paying group.

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There's a scrambler, because of course there's a scrambler.

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There's a pirate ship, sans the "e" as is customary for this type of ride.

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Also, a carousel, with a nice brick enclosure.

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Stricker's Grove is a cute little park. I wish I'd done more in the short time I was there, but if I want to head back on an open day some time in the future, it's less than an hour away.

Day 0 Epilogue

 

After departing Stricker's Grove at 7 PM, we scooted east to the real welcome dinner at a Carrabba's a few miles south of Kings Island. I'd never been in this restaurant before, but it's in an area I visit several times a month, including the weekend just before the tour began. It was almost like having TPR invade my own personal space. Watch, next they'll take over my local park with some sort of giant bash themed to a huge purple roller coaster or something.

 

We had one coaster event left to tackle before heading to the hotel. With all 40-50 of us sitting in the bus and ready to hear the news together, Holiday World was set to announce their big 2015 addition -- and the end of their #66DaysOfTorture social media campaign. Well done, Paula. How effective was the campaign? The finest gathering of coaster nerds on the planet was sitting in a Carrabba's parking lot, glued to smart phones and waiting for the reveal.

 

I can still hear the words.

 

"It's a launched wing rider."

 

Like we were expecting a GeForce clone. Hey, they got the color!

 

Minutes later, another B&M appeared in our view -- this one off to the right of the bus. Flying past Banshee on I-71, we turned in for our first night of the trip at 10 PM. Welcome packets were given out, rules were dispersed and taken to heart accordingly, and a few brave souls may have even ventured to Waffle House. Thus began the Mini New Hotness trip, sometimes referred to by several other names, but known best for being the most awesome form of sleep deprivation money can buy.

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Some people were brave enough to try the Rock-O-Plane, while others enjoyed the trip's first round of drinks. I pity anyone who did both.

 

I did both and it was awesome.

 

So glad you're doing a trip report! Great start!

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Yay, Andy's photo TR! I plan on making a few cameos.

The Rock-O-Plane at Coney was "great." I just needed some rolaids after. Also it's too bad you missed the train at Sticker's Grove, because there was an incredibly life-like hippo. I thought I had been transported to Africa.

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And to think you were only a few hundred yards from history . . .

 

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Coney Island and Stricker's Grove were a great start to the Mini New Hotness Trip.

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Terrific start to your TR, Andy. I look forward to following this thread; something about your photos just makes me wish it was summer already (for the weather and of course, the coasters, especially as it snows in Chicago tonight).

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And to think you were only a few hundred yards from history . . .

The other historical markers in the area all commemorate horrible plane crashes. Figured this one was a little less morbid.

 

something about your photos just makes me wish it was summer already

That makes two of us. Where's a warm front or three when you need one?

 

I did both and it was awesome.

Brave, Ian! Brave.

 

Maybe I am crazy, because I loved that Rock-o-Plane!

I probably shouldn't use terms like "crazy" when I willingly rode Wipe Out at the same park.

 

I plan on making a few cameos.

A ha, he thinks he has a choice.

 

Also it's too bad you missed the train at Sticker's Grove, because there was an incredibly life-like hippo. I thought I had been transported to Africa.

Stricker's Grove > Jungle Cruise. There it is.

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Awesome start to the trip report, can't wait to see more! Also yeah the train at Stricker's Grove was incredible, much better than Jungle Cruise and complete with a geese social gathering in the field near the end of the train route.

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Had a great time 2 years ago with you on the Texas-Midwest TPR trip, sadly as I read this I won't be reliving an experience rather learning of it for the first time. Hopefully we end up on another trip together. Your PTRs are great keep going.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Awesome start to the trip report, can't wait to see more! Also yeah the train at Stricker's Grove was incredible, much better than Jungle Cruise and complete with a geese social gathering in the field near the end of the train route.

 

I missed a hippo and I missed geese? What a disappointment.

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Had a great time 2 years ago with you on the Texas-Midwest TPR trip, sadly as I read this I won't be reliving an experience rather learning of it for the first time. Hopefully we end up on another trip together.

 

Thanks Victor, and agreed!

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Day 1 -- Kings Island / Banshee Bash

Friday, July 25, 2014

 

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Every bash needs a cake.

Scorecard:

 

Banshee (x8)

Diamondback (x4)

Pipeline Paradise (Straight) (x2)

Pipeline Paradise (Curved) (x2)

Mondo Monsoon

Pipeline Paradise (Straight)

Flying Ace Aerial Chase

Boo Blasters on Boo Hill

-- Lunch --

The Great Pumpkin Coaster

Banshee Tour

Beast / Diamondback Tour

Kings Island and Miami Valley Railroad

Eiffel Tower

Cirque Imagine

Woodstock Express

Surf Dog

WindSeeker

Racer (Blue)

-- Fireworks --

Banshee (x2)

Diamondback (x2)

Beast (x4)

 

The Report:

 

16 hours.

 

I can guarantee that I've never before spent 16 consecutive hours in an amusement park. Banshee Bash was the proverbial "first time for anything."

 

So, pull up a chair and stay a while -- this report is going to be a lengthy one.

 

The longest park day in my history can only be described as a worthy test of endurance. The agenda for the event was very full, to the point that almost every other Banshee Bash trip report included the phrase "pulled out all the stops." Let me put it a little bit differently: after 16 hours in the park, I still had more things I wanted to do. That's a sign of a good event, but also a sign of a great park, and Kings Island easily qualifies.

 

I should note that Kings Island is my local park. I live just 25 minutes away, and drive past the park on I-71 at least once a week, on average. Despite that, I rarely stop in, and I don't own a pass. Perhaps that helped keep the place fresh for me -- the sixteen hours of Banshee Bash went by quickly, and I found plenty of reasons to make the horrendously-long journey to come back in 2015. Banshee Bash was actually my second day at Kings Island in 2014, as I also attended Banshee Media Day in April. The seeds for Banshee Bash were planted on media day, and the plans for the event blossomed from there, continuing to grow right up until the event was underway!

 

Rather than write a giant unbroken narrative, let's try something different -- an hour-by-hour look at a sixteen-hour day in a world-class amusement park.

 

Prelude

I think I woke up at around 6:30 AM. At 7:45 AM, the TPR bus departed our hotel -- the Hampton Inn just off Kings Mills Road -- and made the short drive to the park.

 

Hour 1 -- 8AM to 9AM

Our 45-ish participants added to an already-growing crowd of TPR members outside of the main gate. It wasn't dissimilar to our wait outside the park before media day, though it was about a hundred degrees warmer.

 

An hour-long ERT session on Banshee began at 8:30 AM. Though the line to get in was long, the ERT session thinned out quickly, and the Banshee crew was flying through trains about as fast as I've ever seen.

 

Hour 2 -- 9AM to 10AM

My strategy for Banshee was originally to get as many rides as possible. However, I started keeping track of where I was riding, and eventually made it my goal to get one ride in each row. I succeeded -- the hour long ERT session provided me eight rides on Banshee, perfectly split among each of the eight rows. The back is still my favorite.

 

After Banshee ERT was done, we acquired our Fast Lane passes for the day, and headed to our next coaster. Diamondback ERT began at 9:30 AM, and kicked off with the very rare thrill of having park security lift the "Area Closed" rope for us to walk through. With an enthusiastic ride staff, I easily picked up four rides in just a half hour.

 

Hour 3 -- 10AM to 11AM

Once the dry side of the park was open for business at 10AM, I headed over to Soak City for TPR's water park ERT, which began at 10:30 AM. As it turns out, very few TPR members participated, and I thought this might be a good thing for my efforts on the park's surfing simulator.

 

That might not have been a good idea.

 

On the 2013 TPR Texas/Midwest trip, I participated in two FlowRider ERT sessions, eventually figuring out enough of the basics to stay upright and move around on the fast stream of water. Unfortunately, the Kings Island ride (Pipeline Paradise) is set up on a very rough concrete surface. The stream of water was less uniform than on the soft tarp surfaces I tried in 2013, which made it harder for me to keep my balance. Yes, you can probably see where this is going. Five attempts led to five wipeouts on hard concrete, and I walked away (well, limped away) with several minor injuries. Damage to one big toe left me hobbling a little for the next couple days of the TPR tour. Heck, a nasty gash just above my left hip is still scarred to this day! My lesson has been learned -- stick to the tarp FlowRiders, and leave these things to the professionals.

 

Injured but undaunted, and with a little help from fellow Texas/Midwest alumna Stacy, I pressed ahead. The fast pace of a TPR tour requires such an attitude. I also gave Mondo Monsoon a spin, but shortly thereafter we returned to the dry side of the park.

 

Hour 4 -- 11AM to 12PM

On our way out of the water park, it was time to pick up the first new credit of the day -- Flying Ace Aerial Chase (#159). This may have been the best use of Fast Lane all day long -- we waited two or three trains, but the regular line would have easily been at least a half hour. This coaster isn't worth a half hour.

 

Hour 5 -- 12PM to 1PM

After collecting some things from the front of the park, we headed to Boo Blasters for a quick spin on the ex-Scooby Doo shooting dark ride.

 

At 12:30 PM, our group lunch began in the Delirium shelter behind Planet Snoopy. I shouldn't even need to declare what was being served, but for those of you who aren't aware, our veins were filled with fried chicken and hot dogs by the end of the Mini New Hotness trip. We did have one exclusive item at the Banshee Bash lunch -- a cake made specially for the event! Snoopy was there too -- posing for pictures, not on the menu.

 

As lunch continued, we were introduced to three members of the Kings Island staff. First, Greg Scheid (General Manager) discussed the process of building Banshee. Greg got the biggest cheers of the event, lobbing a softball to the enthusiast audience by asking the crowd's preference between Gatekeeper and Banshee. Greg agreed with our selection. Next, Don Helbig (PR / Social Media) took the stage, sharing stories about The Beast. The final speaker was Howard Newstate, who manages and produces Cedar Fair's FunTV network. All FunTV broadcasts originate from a control center at Kings Island, which acts as a central hub for the system. According to Howard, more original content (including games and POVs) will be coming to FunTV in 2015.

 

Hour 6 -- 1PM to 2PM

"Does anyone want to borrow my son for the Great Pumpkin credit?"

 

Not the kind of thing a credit-counting coaster enthusiast simply overhears and ignores.

 

I didn't know if I'd be able to finish off the Kings Island coaster list, because I didn't know if I'd be able to get on the Great Pumpkin -- a credit as elusive as its namesake from the Peanuts cartoon. Thankfully, I got an in from Mark G (aka "Whodey") -- a TPR member I was fortunate enough to sit near at lunch. I didn't have to ask, and I didn't have to be creepy. The offer was made, and I graciously took it. I rode the Great Pumpkin Coaster (#160) and did not do so alone -- aside from my new friend, I had several spectators watching, and probably laughing. Is the joke on the people who failed to collect the credit, or the person who took the time to ride it? That left me with just one credit to go at my local park -- Woodstock Express, which we left for later in the day.

 

I doubt many people rode the Great Pumpkin, but I know I wasn't the only one (as at least one TPR member made a contribution to KT's ever-growing college fund).

 

Hour 7 -- 2PM to 3PM

At 2PM, our next special event began -- a backstage photo tour of Banshee. With a group of our size, we couldn't really go toward the back of the coaster's circuit, but we did get access to the paved area between the lift hill and Delirium. This provided our coaster-geek congregation with several close-up photo opportunities with the first few elements on the ride.

 

I traveled with Mark K for another photo opportunity at around 2:30 PM. We exited the park and headed out to the parking lot, taking some distant shots of the rides, and also getting pictures of the Kings Island LED sign near the main road and the highway. I'm pretty sure that we're the only people who captured images of the TPR Banshee Bash graphics that the park was displaying as part of the advertising loop.

 

Hour 8 -- 3PM to 4PM

Our second official TPR photo tour began at 3PM, with backstage access to The Beast and Diamondback. This tour brought us much deeper into the paths for both coasters, providing extremely rare views of The Beast in action, and some great hilly vantage points over Diamondback's back half. This was a big highlight of the day, as both of these coaster sections are impossible to view from the open areas of the park.

 

What do you mean we're only at the halfway point?

 

Hour 9 -- 4PM to 5PM

We started the second half of the day with a ride on the Kings Island and Miami Valley Railroad. The full circuit only took about 15 minutes, but gave us a short break to rest our feet.

 

Next on the agenda was a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, which (along with its twin in Virginia) is my favorite observation tower at any park on the planet. Why? It's open air, it doesn't move, it doesn't have a time limit, and the safety bars are spaced wide enough to fit a camera lens through. I was up there for 40 minutes and took 320 pictures. No, I'm not posting all 320 of them.

 

Hour 10 -- 5PM to 6PM

Several TPR members gathered in the Festhaus for dinner. While we were treated to Rock 'n' Roll Never Forgets, a singing performance on the Festhaus stage, I took some time to relax.

 

Hour 11 -- 6PM to 7PM

After dinner, we headed over to the Kings Island Theater to meet up with the big group in advance of the Cirque Imagine show. We were let into the theater at 6:15 PM, 45 minutes before showtime. Our group had several rows reserved in the front -- the best seats in the house!

 

Hour 12 -- 7PM to 8PM

What a show! The Cirque Imagine performers dazzled us by doing things we'd all snap our necks attempting. After the show ended, we stuck around to meet the performers. Many of them are from Canada, which makes sense -- the show had run at Canada's Wonderland in 2013, and moved south of the Great Lakes for 2014. A few prizes were awarded, and we did a group photo before leaving the theater.

 

The first stop after Cirque Imagine was Woodstock Express (#161), finally completing my run of the credits at Kings Island (obviously not all in the same day).

 

Hour 13 -- 8PM to 9PM

After a ride on Surf Dog, the first signs of sunset began to cast the entire park in an orange glow. It was an almost-comically photogenic denouement to the day, bordering on flat-out cheesy after a rainbow made a brief appearance.

 

How best to enjoy the stunning colors in the fading sunlight? A 300-foot high ride on WindSeeker, perhaps.

 

Hour 14 -- 9PM to 10PM

Our final non-ERT coaster of the night was a spin on the blue side of Racer. After that, we headed back to the front of the park, and were ushered into the former International Restaurant space above the main entrance. We had private seating for the evening's fireworks show, and while the glass-windowed building setting wasn't ideal for photography, I pulled out my mini-tripod and made the most of it.

 

Hour 15 -- 10PM to 11PM

We oohed and aahed, and when the fireworks were over, the ERT was set to begin.

 

After checking with a park employee to make sure I could, I left my items in a locked compartment near the front of the park. I'll come back to that.

 

Banshee was first on the ERT schedule at 10:15 PM. I rode twice, including once in the front. While Banshee is a back row ride for the overall experience, the visuals make it a preferred front row ride at night.

 

ERT on Diamondback began at 10:30 PM. Most coasters improve at night, and after two rides, I can say that Diamondback was no exception.

 

Hour 16 -- 11PM to 12AM

The final hour of the day was simple, with just one item on the agenda -- The Beast. Is there a better way to close a day at Kings Island than to have an hour of exclusive time on The Beast at night? As if that wasn't enough, Kings Island opened a nearby refreshment stand and offered free drinks for the final hour of the day.

 

I rode The Beast four times, and though I never made it to the front row, it was certainly an experience to remember. Banshee and Diamondback may be better coasters objectively, but it makes sense to close out such an epic day on Kings Island's most important and influential ride.

 

Postlude

As it turns out, locking up items near the front of the park wasn't actually a good idea -- they swept 'em clean after the park closed to regular guests. Had Stacy not rescued the items from guest services, I may have gone without a camera for the rest of the tour, which would have meant that my New Hotness / East Coast trip report would have ended here!

 

Thanks to Stacy, I was able to continue taking way too many pictures for the next 11 days and beyond.

 

It was 12:30 AM by the time we got back to the hotel. Thankfully, following such a long and tiring day, we were all able to sleep in soundly.

 

I'll give the other tour participants a moment to collect themselves after that joke.

 

Right. We had to wake up in 4 hours to leave for Kentucky. Bash one day, back on the road the next morning. Thy Kingdom come, even if we might not be awake to see it.

 

The Attractions:

 

Banshee: I rode Banshee seven times on media day, and ten more times at Banshee Bash. After seventeen rides, I think it just keeps getting better. It's a rare coaster that combines inversions (with substantial positive G-forces) with the sense of travel that only a long ride can really provide. The layout is remarkable and rather unique, and uses the terrain exquisitely. The intensity doesn't let up until the inline twist near the end. Further to the coaster's credit is the lack of a cobra roll -- one of my least favorite coaster elements. The first drop is easily the best on any invert I've been on, especially in the back. Finally, the theming is top notch for a traditional amusement park, and the whole area surrounding the coaster is stunning at night. The end result is that I have to commit an act of near-blasphemy and declare Banshee as my #1 invert over Montu, a coaster I've called one of my favorites for over fifteen years (though I'd bet that both will stay in my top ten steel coasters). What a fantastic job by everyone involved with this ride.

 

Diamondback: This ride is a floater air machine, and really filled a huge gap in Kings Island's lineup. It's really hard to imagine the park before Diamondback and Banshee were installed -- they're both great rides that give the park a very potent 1-2-3 punch. For some reason that I can't figure out, I'm not sure that I really love Diamondback -- though I like it a lot. I think my favorite B&M hypercoaster is Apollo's Chariot, though Diamondback and Nitro are not far off. Diamondback is definitely a back seat ride, while I thought Nitro was outstanding in the front row. Apollo in the back seat might be the best experience out of the three. Regardless, Diamondback is a very good ride, and my second favorite in the park.

 

The Beast: I've lived in southwest Ohio for almost eight years, and yet never had a true night ride on The Beast -- mainly because I never went to the park on the busy summer days that keep the place open past dark. Well, thanks to the Banshee Bash ERT, I rode The Beast four times between 11PM and midnight. Yup, it's worth the hype. Even after some of the incredible wooden coasters I'd ride for the first time later in the trip, I expect that The Beast will still keep a spot in my top ten wood coaster list. It's not forceful (outside of the laterals in the finale), and it has virtually no air time at all. What it lacks in traditional enthusiast benchmarks, it makes up for with something rather unique -- a lengthy journey through the forest, and an awesome nighttime experience. It's a reminder that a coaster can be loads of fun without pushing for records or intensity. It'll remain Kings Island's landmark for decades to come.

 

Racer: Not much to say about this one -- a classic out-and-back racing woodie, which was smoother than I remember it being in the past. That's good, since I'll be marathoning the thing as part of Coasting For Kids this June.

 

Flying Ace Aerial Chase: Maybe I expected too much out of a Vekoma. I thought it looked like a fun and perfectly agreeable family coaster, but there was something about it that just didn't sit right with me. Maybe it was the layout, or the awkward transitions with a lengthy train. Glad to have the credit, but now I never have to ride it again.

 

Woodstock Express: Nothing wrong with this ride, on the other hand! It's a classic junior woodie -- similar to Teddy Bear at Stricker's Grove -- and fun for all ages.

 

Great Pumpkin Coaster: A check mark in the toughest empty box at Kings Island. There were easily a couple hundred TPR Banshee Bash attendees, and I'll guarantee I was one of just a few to pick up the credit. Quite frankly, it's a better ride than any of the Zamperla kiddie coasters I'd try out later in the trip.

 

Boo Blasters on Boo Hill: Have to be honest -- this ranks below average as far as shooting dark rides go. I know the loss of the theming rights probably hurt things a bit, but even if they were still in place, I'm just not sure it's as imaginative (or as fun) as some of the others I've been on.

 

Cirque Imagine: I'm not a "show" guy, but I am a "do everything offered special as part of a TPR event" guy. So, I happily went to Cirque Imagine, and enjoyed the heck out of it. It's everything you could want from a theater-scale Cirque production -- fantastic talent, remarkable performances, and just enough of a story to tie the whole thing together.

 

Mondo Monsoon: It's fun, but the big tornado slides aren't among my favorites. The really thrilling part only lasts a few seconds, and the rest isn't any more exciting than a standard family raft slide.

 

Pipeline Paradise: Ouch.

Edited by The Great Zo
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Banshee Bash pictures (first half)

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The slighly cool conditions in the early morning are perfect for the fog coming out of the Banshee sign. Here's the view during morning ERT.

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An exercise in poor decision making at Pipeline Paradise during Soak City ERT. // Photo Credit -- Stacy G.

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We might be delirious after 16 hours in the park and another round of fried chicken. Oh, and we got a cake!

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Greg Scheid talks to us about Banshee, and takes a small dig at his counterparts on Lake Erie.

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Don Helbig might be the biggest Beast fan on the planet.

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The front of the picnic shelter, as Don tells us some stories.

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The rest of the picnic shelter -- a great turnout for the TPR event.

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Howard Newstate discusses FunTV, which will be enhanced in 2015 -- its second year of operation.

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This picture is from just before lunch -- in line for my Vekoma kiddie hang-and-bang credit. Wasn't a fan.

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Speaking of kiddie credits, here's a true example -- the Great Pumpkin Coaster.

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Yes, this is a "borrow a kid" ride, and most enthusiasts haven't gotten on board. As for me?

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Well, my thanks to Mark G (Whodey) and his son -- this one's off the checklist! // Photo Credit -- Mark G.

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Time for a backstage (or at least side-stage) photo tour of Banshee!

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The cemetery theming is appropriate for a ride that's pretty much been built on a coaster gravesite.

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The loop around the lift hill is one of Banshee's most iconic elements.

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This is my favorite zero-g roll on any coaster.

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Unlike most inverts, Banshee has a first drop that packs a punch!

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Screaming through one of seven inversions.

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Coaster beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or, in Stacy's sunglasses. Whichever.

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In case you forgot why we're here.

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Well, Paul and Stacy didn't forget. Obviously it's the ice cream.

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All this hairtime is making me delirious.

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Sometimes it's the small details, like the clock on the Kings Island Theater.

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Took a walk to the front of the parking lot with Mark K.

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Diamondback climbs the lift through the trees.

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Parabolic.

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Banshee isn't quite as prominent on the skyline as Diamondback, but it's the obvious star attraction on the north end of the park.

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I'm just now noticing that there's an extra platform on the mat racer slides at Soak City.

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Here's the real reason we came out front -- the outstanding Kings Island sign in all its LED glory.

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Welcome Theme Park Review Banshee Bash!

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So, do you think they like Banshee or something?

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Alright, here's a cleaner look at the front gate. The banner looks fantastic, but the building and the shingles are a little dated.

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In case you weren't aware, there's a professional baseball team in Cincinnati with a little bit of history.

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The Reds Hall of Fame Grille has plenty of Reds memorabilia, and a wall with plaques for every Reds Hall of Fame inductee. Here's one of the most famous of all -- catcher Johnny Bench. Bonus: the Reds Grille is also the best place in the park to get free water!

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The former Crypt (and former-former Tomb Raider) is looking pretty sad.

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Oh, but while I'm in the area, here's a shot of the first drop on Diamondback.

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It just looks snake-like, doesn't it?

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Hey, who let all these people back here? Time for the TPR walkback photo tour of The Beast and Diamondback.

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An angle of the lift hill that few people get to see.

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So, uh, don't do any of that stuff.

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Paul and Mark admiring some wood.

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A train full of happy Beast riders!

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Kid's scared. Dad's anticipating. Guy two rows back looks like Thom Brennaman after too much coffee.

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Several things going on in this picture that I'm not sure I can reasonably explain.

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The moral of the story: don't go back there.

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Not even to get your hat.

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Oh look, coaster nerds taking pictures of coaster riders. Also, coaster nerds taking pictures of other coaster nerds taking pictures of coaster riders.

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A train about to get helixed.

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There's something kind of hypnotizing about this.

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Excuse my "artsy blocking out the sun" shot.

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Another Beast train heads into the finale.

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There's a lot of terrain back here. I tried to get a picture of the train heading up that hill in the distance, but it was very tough to get the focus right.

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Just hanging out backstage.

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Construction was underway on a new haunt building near The Beast.

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The "dark side" of the Beast station.

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Next, we headed over to Diamondback, which does stuff like this.

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I should probably mention how great the weather was.

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Oh look, another photo op!

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Admit it, the front of the Diamondback train looks like a bird.

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Cresting the lift hill and going down.

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Tower juxtaposition.

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Rock on, guys.

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It's a little bit like flying. Probably more so than Firehawk, and more comfortable for sure.

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Splashdown, part one.

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Splashdown, part two.

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Splashdown, part three.

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How about a spin on the Kings Island and Miami Valley Railroad?

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History lesson! Losantiville is the original name of the city of Cincinnati, and it will forever live on in the train station at Kings Island. Fun fact: 753 feet is the actual elevation of the train station.

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The K.I. (Kings Island) is obvious, but what's the M.V. (Miami Valley) mean? Southwest Ohio is sometimes referred to as the Miami Valley, as the region is drained by the Great Miami and Little Miami rivers. The Great Miami flows through downtown Dayton and Hamilton, and the Little Miami flows through the valley immediately to the east of Kings Island.

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The Mary Rose Inn as seen from the train. I wonder what this is for?

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This looks like a small fort of some type. There are quite a few things on the train ride that must have some sort of history for the park, but I don't know the stories behind them.

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Two trains about to pass on a curve in the tracks. The Kings Island railroad travels mainly through an empty area of the park, so there aren't many good views of attractions.

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William Haynes, a long-time train engineer at Kings Island, died in 2012. This maintenance facility is named in his honor.

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Heading back into the park -- let's see what Nathan and A.J. are up to. Picking up the log flume credit, it appears.

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Oh, but you might want to remember the mischievous beagle at the end.

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It's a small flume, but a good family attraction.

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Plus, it's easy to get close enough for splash pictures like this.

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Congrats -- you finished the race!

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Well, aside from the whole "you're on a log flume so you're going to get wet" thing.

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Next stop? Let's head upstairs.

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Yes, we used Fast Lane to skip ahead into the elevator for the Eiffel Tower.

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Here's why I love the Eiffel Tower -- open air. It's a photographer's dream.

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A look at the entry area, with the under-utilized former International Restaurant space. We'd be in there later in the evening for the fireworks.

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Main Street and the fountains.

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A view over the Festhaus and Action Zone on a beautiful July day.

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Banshee! Got on it ten times.

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Firehawk! Intentionally skipped it!

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Backlot Stunt coaster! Skipped it in the interest of time, but it's not a bad ride.

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Diamondback! Picked up four rides on Kings Island's king of floater air.

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A view over the south end of the park, including Soak City and Planet Snoopy.

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Two-train shot with a splash. Full credit to the crews at Kings Island -- I usually think of Cedar Point's ride ops as the best in the business, and Kings Island's staff met their level of speed and enthusiasm.

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If you don't like heights, you won't want to look down. If you do like heights, enjoy the view!

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Not-so-fun fact: the huge sign for Paramount's Kings Island was blown over and destroyed in a September 2003 thunderstorm. This version of the sign was last updated in 2014 to include the multi-color LED marquee.

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Invertigo moves through the cobra roll -- my favorite! Yeah, after Flying Ace, I'd had my fill of Vekoma for the day.

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Somebody's about to get a little wet.

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Took this picture of the Kings Island Hall of Fame display. Didn't notice until later that one of the Cirque Imagine performers made a cameo appearance.

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Going down?

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Spinning up.

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Banshee has completely revived this area of the park.

Edited by The Great Zo
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Banshee Bash pictures (second half)

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One of my favorite things about long-zoom photography (especially from an elevated platform) is the way the backgrounds change behind the subject.

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For example, it's really easy to make Banshee look like it's traveling well outside of civilization.

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It helps if the subject is photogenic, and The Bat's new paint looks fantastic.

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I think it's the "Coney" shadow that makes this shot work.

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Oh look, a monster!

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Firehawk's vertical loop. I never even went back into the X-Base area during Banshee Bash.

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Windseeker soars just below the horizon.

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Hey, Racer's racing!

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The trains hit the turnaround, as Windseeker falls back to earth.

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A tight helix.

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The Metro Rail.

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Fire, freight cars, and Helicopter-on-a-Stick.

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A two-train Vortex and Beast shot!

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One better! An enormously lucky three-train picture.

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Two trains crest. Which one would I rather be riding?

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The truth is, I wanted to give Vortex a courtesy ride, but ran out of time. My tastes have evolved, but after my first Kings Island visit in 2007, Vortex was my favorite coaster in the park.

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Hey, do you have the time?

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Let's glance over at Planet Snoopy.

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Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown -- a family log flume. I already have the credit.

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Splash down to the finish.

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I've grown to enjoy coasters like Woodstock Express. They're so much better than most steel kiddie coasters.

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A view out over the Diamondback lift hill.

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It really makes the road in this picture (Western Row) look like it's very close, but it's over a mile away.

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Diamondback blazes past the Beast station.

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If you like the 80s, Kings Island has a show (and a multi-colored cube) for you.

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The performers are down there somewhere.

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Mondo Monsoon, a huge tornado slide at Soak City.

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Ah, the evil Pipeline Paradise.

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Soak City's wave pool was very busy, to no surprise.

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I'm hoping someone can help identify some items I noticed outside the park's main boundaries, north of Banshee. This looks like some old tram cars, some kiosks, and a van.

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I believe that these cars (behind Firehawk) are the Go-Karts that were formerly located near Son of Beast.

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So, for all of you visiting from out of town, welcome to southwest Ohio. It's full of trees, full of McMansion and McCondo developments, and just a little bit hilly.

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Here's the Great Wolf Lodge just north of the park.

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Perhaps a little more low-key is the Hampton Inn that served as the official TPR hotel for the first two nights of the trip.

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The Lindner Family Tennis Center, just across I-71 from Kings Island, is a major tennis venue. They host a huge tournament every August.

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This is the smokestack from the historic (and decrepit) Peters Cartridge Company on the Little Miami River. I'm sure the locals will recognize it, especially anyone who's been on the nearby bike path.

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Warren County calls itself "Ohio's Biggest Playground." It might also be Ohio's biggest home of sprawl.

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Way, way in the distance -- the tallest buildings of downtown Cincinnati are barely visible, over 20 miles away.

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Back to earth, where Rock 'n' Roll Never Forgets.

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Just enjoying some music in the Festhaus.

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I'm sure the performers loved having a huge crowd to sing for on a busy summer Friday.

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More music at Kings Island.

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The backdrops were fun to shoot against -- an array of changing colors.

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Hey, look over there!

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Get your own spotlight.

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Speaking of spotlights, how about we drop in for Cirque Imagine?

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This lucky (or unlucky) TPR member in the front row was given quite the makeover.

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I don't know who this is, but congrats!

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The four performers dressed in red kicked things off with some acrobatic exercises.

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These four were the heart of the show, setting up all the performances by the other members of the cast.

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It appears, however, that they're a little scared of what's coming next.

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Well, yeah, I'd be worried too if a guy on a bike was narrowly avoiding stomping my spine into two pieces.

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Bike guy controlled his mode of transport as if it were an extension of his own body.

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Then, he climbed the set backdrop, one wheelie at a time.

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Smoke rings!

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This guy's amused.

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Suddenly, a rope appears, and a performer to use it.

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Might as well climb it.

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This picture barely looks physically possible.

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This one, even less so!

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Another performer comes to the stage.

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The guys in red watch in amazement -- as does the audience.

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Flowers for somebody?

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Nope, hand-stands for somebody else.

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Strike a pose.

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Suddenly, the walls close in.

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Time for some high-flying trampoline stunts.

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Can't imagine the amount of precision it took to pull this off.

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Finally, the cast gathered together...

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...and the story reached a happy ending!

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Like one big, happy, incredibly flexible and coordinated family.

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Take a bow, part one.

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Take a bow, part two.

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Before the performers returned to the stage, Robb gathered with Don Helbig and Brett Parr to announce a giveaway for two extremely limited-edition Banshee pin sets (with only 100 made). The pin sets were given to the people who traveled the greatest distance to visit Kings Island. I was truly shocked that I didn't win! Ha ha ha. Hard to compete with Hong Kong (Caroline) and the UK (Paul H). Congrats!

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We heard a little from each of the performers, including how they got into performing and where they are from.

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Most of the performers came from Canada, having performed the show at Canada's Wonderland in 2013.

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Let's not forget the guy in green -- another cast member who was out injured.

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Kings Island is a place where anyone can be "A Kid Again."

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This statue was dedicated near the beginning of the 2014 season. Great to see that Kings Island has such a strong relationship with organizations like this.

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Here's where the whole park lit up orange, and extraordinary pictures like this one became possible. With dark sky in the background and bright orange to light up the foreground, this isn't an edit -- it's real life.

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Diamondback was similarly illuminated.

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The sun even caught the top of the Diamondback splash.

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Atmospheric perfection.

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Great view from down here, but I'm sure it was even better from up there.

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Yes, we also got a rainbow. Of course we got a rainbow.

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Even Vortex looks good in these conditions!

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For Windseeker, the lights were on, and it was time for a ride.

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I prefer riding Star Flyers, but I prefer photographing Windseekers.

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Just before 10PM, we gathered in the former International Restaurant for the fireworks.

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Here's one of a few special shapes that were used in the fireworks show.

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It wasn't easy shooting through the glass, but I did the best I could!

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The Eiffel Tower was lit with changing colors, which added to the experience.

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They even played the music soundtrack in the restaurant for us.

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Not a bad view at all.

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With that, it was time for evening ERT! This Banshee line looks long, but it moved through with incredible speed.

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TPR members in the front row!

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After a few spins on Diamondback, we closed the night on The Beast. The line for the front row was long, but we had walk-ons everywhere else.

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Night rides on The Beast were the only fitting way to end such an epic day at Kings Island.

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Banshee Bash was a great success -- thanks so much to Robb, Don, and everyone involved at Kings Island for making it happen!

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Great report Andy! Banshee Bash was an awesome day! And after seeing your photos, I still can't believe I spent 16hrs there and missed a lot of stuff. Guess that means I have to go back huh?

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Fantastic report! I spent 14 hours at Cedar Point in August, but that of course wasn't with TPR. 16 hours really is a feat, and it takes a really great park to spend such a length of time (not to say I wouldn't have gone a few more hours for MF night rides).

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